Miss Daisy Driving

she finally decided to take the wheel

White Knuckles

Remember when I was going on and on about the wind?

Well, it never died down and kept waking me up throughout the night. I probably got about 2 hours of sleep in total. Not the ideal situation, of course, so it was a bit of a drag.

My alarm was set for 4:30am for a planned 5am departure (it’s a 6-hour drive to Cape Breton and I wanted to have the whole day to explore the first side of the trail), but I ended up getting fed up with trying to sleep at around 4:10, so I decided to just get up and leave. I was so tired when I first got up that I almost put mascara on my toothbrush.

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I left before the sun even started to get up, which was kind of a drag because I had been looking forward to seeing the sunrise from my camper. Luckily, though, I experienced the sunrise on the drive. It was beautiful. The colors!!!

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I didn’t get a chance to see a whole lot in New Brunswick, and I would love to come back at some point to explore some more. A good thing about the drive to Cape Breton, though, was that as I was heading toward the main highway stretch, the GPS took my through all of these really cute fishing villages, etc. Although I was only driving by, at least I got to see some of the towns I wanted to explore in passing!

 

I drove through cute little towns, long, open highways, and then ended up on this road.

Sorry Shamanda.

Sorry, Shamanda.

Couple of highlights of the drive (besides almost dying on this road — NOT ACTUALLY DON’T WORRY, MOM):

  • A hitchhiker on the side of the highway — wonder where he is now
  • Oxford, Nova Scotia: “The Blueberry Capital of Canada”
  • Countless dead animals by the side of the road… Only one was immediately recognizable: SKUNK

After about six hours of driving, I made it to the base of the Cabot Trail, where I was ready for… some more driving! The Cabot Trail is a beautiful driving trail on Cape Breton; like the Fundy Trail, it has countless lookouts to wonder at the beautiful views and several places to stop, park, and then hike. I started in Baddeck, drove to Cheticamp (one starting place of the trail), and then went on my way to Pleasant Bay, where I’m staying for the night.

I couldn’t decide which lookouts to stop at, so I just stopped at all of them.

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A stranger saw me taking this photo and asked if I wanted him to take a photo of me because he could tell I was “struggling”

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The lookouts weren’t the only beautiful aspect; the general driving trail itself was SPECTACULAR. I obviously couldn’t take any photos as I was driving (because, as the title of this post suggests — the driving was definitely a little hairy, with many twists and turns, etc.), so if you’re curious, just google “Cabot Trail” images and see what pops up. It’s magical.

After driving around quite a bit, it was finally 4pm: check-in time! I went to the B&B that I had booked and settled in. I was exhausted from the night before (no sleep) and the drive up, but I had booked a sunset hiking tour on the skyline trail (one of the many hiking trails along the Cabot Trail), so I had to get my act together and go on my way. So I grabbed my backpack and headed for dinner at the Rusty Anchor Restaurant, where I ordered crab rolls. CRAB ROLLS. YUM.

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A girl in this seafood restaurant got chicken fingers. I wish I could say, “really? are you kidding?” but that was me up until like… last year. LOL

I forgot exactly what time we had to meet for the hike, so I got there at 6:05 just to be safe.

We didn’t meet until 6:50.

I read in my car for a while, waiting for the tour guide to show up — I decided to do this tour instead of just going by myself because, although I’m sure I would have been fine because I would have tagged along with some other family or something, there have been some instances of coyotes attacking lone hikers. Lone female hikers, to be exact. So I wasn’t about to risk that, because that woulda been a “trip ruiner” (as my mom calls it) for sure.

Finally, more people showed up and we met our hiking guide! She was really great. It was so cool to hear where everyone else was coming from: the Netherlands, Virginia, Denmark, and Montreal! Everyone was super sweet and welcoming. We also got really lucky with the weather, because it had been pretty cloudy all day, but it cleared up right before we left.

The hike itself was magical; through the woods (but it was pretty clear so it didn’t feel dense or buggy), the mountains (moose territory but unfortunately, we didn’t spot any), and then finally the beach, where we got to watch the sunset. So surreal.

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The trail

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The beginning of the enclosure that protects the vegetation from the forever multiplying moose

The park has had several days in which volunteers and professional tree planters came in and helped plant saplings and seeds in an effort to replenish the forest.

Did you know that one can become a “professional tree planter?”

Like father like daughter

Like father like daughter (I’m a creep, sorry)

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Cute little French girl investigating the difference between a Balsam Fir and a White Spruce

Cute little French girl investigating the difference between a Balsam Fir and a White Spruce

Our guide made a reference to the Washington Monument to describe the structure of the trees!!!!!!!!! I almost cried.

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The photo above was taken on “Jumping Brook,” a look-out landing. Our tour guide told us the name and then told us, “But please don’t.”

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The sight was beautiful, but the winds were SO strong. It was pretty treacherous at points, trying to climb up and down the stairs. Here’s a taste:

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On the way back, I trailed behind the cute French family from Montreal. They kept looking back at me so I felt creepy because I didn’t know how to tell them, “I’m just following you because I don’t want to get eaten by a coyote.” They were also walking SO QUICKLY; we eventually caught up to the family from Virginia, who had left a good 10 minutes before. I hung back to walk with them (it was only half of the family — mom and one of the daughters), looking for moose along the way. They were so sweet! The daughter was my age, a rising sophomore at Boston College. We exchanged travel plans (they’re on a road trip as well, but spending all of there time up in Nova Scotia — I’m jealous!) and talked about how our bodies are all confused, not knowing whether it should be sore from sitting in the car for hours at a time or from hiking, etc. It was so great to meet them, I’m so happy I hung back.

When we got to the clearing we met up with the rest of their family — the dad and the other daughter, who are twins! She also goes to BC and was just as sweet as her sister! We three exchanged stories about our college experience so far, like how for me with theatre and them with soccer/tennis, there’s no real middle ground — it’s either way too competitive or not competitive enough. We also talked about our respective campuses (theirs seems very similar to mine — a city school with little green space connected to another campus some ways away with more green space), and what we’re studying (one of them undecided, one an English major). It was so cool! They were so cool! Yay!

Once I got back to my room, it started lightning, thundering, and POURING. Good thing I wasn’t camping anymore!!! I showered, got ready for bed, and tried to work on a blog post but then promptly fell asleep (I woke up the next morning with my laptop still open next to me).

I’m so happy. Being alone has really inspired me to get out there and meet new people. If I had been with family, I doubt I would have walked with them, much less talked to them! I would’ve stayed with my family, walked back with them, etc. But since I was alone, I put myself out there and really made a connection! Virginia family, if you’re reading, email me at daisy_getz@gwu.edu! I’d love to exchange contact information so that if I’m ever in VA or Boston (or you in PA or DC) we can connect again!

Looking forward to another day on the Cabot Trail today!

 

2 Comments

  1. I only learned the benefits of solo travel a (relatively) few years ago, and am so happy for you catching on to it at this early stage of your life. Want to linger longer at a particular site? No problem — no one saying “Come on, we still have to…” Want to get the heck out of a really boring museum even though you *just* paid the fee? No problem. Time for an ice cream break? Don’t mind if I do! Sharing a bus seat or a park bench with someone you’ve never met before? Almost always interesting. Wine or dessert? Uhhhm, yes, both!

    Really glad your knuckles survived 🙂

  2. I’m with you and Carroll on this. Love traveling alone or doing anything alone where I really want to get the whole benefit…..sometimes you can find that one other person to travel with who has same sensibilities, but rare. Even so, it changes the dynamic.

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